Students plan Sexual Violence Awareness Month around survivor healing


Mary McLellan

Junior Maeve Forbes speaks at an SGA meeting.

Four students’ plan for this year’s Sexual Violence Awareness Month focuses on healing for survivors of sexual violence, junior Maeve Forbes said.

Forbes, alongside sophomores Olivia Eisenburg, Taylor MacHarrie and Riley O’Hagan, planned SVAM around good, healthy sex and getting students back in touch with their own bodies in response to the University’s mishandling of sexual violence, MacHarrie said.

“[Campus] can be a really hard place to be for survivors when you’re constantly in the midst of a protest on sexual violence and being constantly bombarded by ‘UVM protects rapists’ and all that, as a survivor that’s really difficult to be constantly surrounded by,” MacHarrie said. 

Students call for change at UVM due to its mishandling of sexual violence since students started coming forward about it  fall 2020, according to an Oct. 13, 2020 Cynic article.

COVID-19 inhibited the execution of SVAM events until recently, Forbes said.

While SVAM events were planned last year, they were unsuccessful, she said. 

This year, the oranizers provided an outlet for survivors where survivors don’t have to concentrate on getting “better,” the events focus more around students reconnecting with their minds and bodies, Forbes said.

This can help survivors process their own trauma, Forbes said.

“When harm happens, it can really create a disconnection with our pleasure, with our bodies and with ourselves,” said Jenna Emerson, a health and sexuality educator in the Center for Health and Wellbeing.

As a survivor herself, Forbes feels most excited for restorative yoga, she said. She looks forward to healing through reconnecting with her body.

The people working to put these events together wanted these events to take a step back and check in with the survivors and activists, Eisenburg said.

Event Itinerary

April 11, 18, 25, 1-3 p.m. – Emerson holds sex education office hours year round and are not specific to the month of April. Emerson provides one on one coaching for sex and relationships, she said.

April 11, 18, 25, 8:15-9:15 p.m., Patrick Gym – Restorative yoga will be open to anyone. 

April 13, 3:30-4:30 p.m. – The Good Stuff: Mindfulness and Sexuality 

April 17, 24, 8:00-9:30 a.m., Patrick Gym – Girl Gains, a club promoting female weightlifting, is holding events  involving exercise and learning to weightlift for femme, female and non-binary people, Macharrie said.  

April 18, 7:30-9 p.m. – En-Sex-Clopedia

April 20, 3-5 p.m., Living Well – Earth and Salt, a local sex store, will hold a pop-up shop where students can purchase books, sex toys, kink material, BDSM items and other sex related items, Emerson said.

April 21, 1:30-2:30 p.m. – Coffee with Elliot Ruggles, sexual violence prevention and education coordinator

April 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Planned Parenthood Generation Action sex trivia

April 27, 3:30-4:30 p.m. – The Good Stuff: Reconnecting to Pleasure 

April 28 – Denim Day is a day where people where jeans to show solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence, according to the Denim Day informational site.